After reviewing surveillance footage over a 3-month span, a school discovered that the new gym teacher had inappropriately touched dozens of little girls, possibly 88 in total. However, as soon as he was charged, outraged parents were devastated to learn that he might not even go to prison at all.
Although schools go through extensive background checks when hiring new educators, there are inevitably those who slip through the cracks for one reason or another. When Clearcreek Elementary School in Springboro, Ohio, welcomed 25-year-old John Austin Hopkins, he passed their checks with flying colors. Little did the school know, he was hiding a dark secret.
After reviewing 90-days-worth of surveillance footage, school officials were horrified to see that their newest hire was teaching his young students more than the standard curriculum. Disturbingly, Hopkins was caught inappropriately touching dozens of young female students, with the final victim tally possibly reaching 88 girls.
According to The Blaze, Hopkins was captured on video inappropriately touching at least 28 first-grade girls while teaching gym class. He would reportedly position the girls on his lap, have them straddle him, reach up their shirts and skirts, and grope their buttocks. He also participated in grooming the children with emotional affection to ensure that they were unnaturally attached to him.
Hopkins was immediately placed on paid administrative leave and was charged with 36 counts of gross sexual imposition for the inappropriate contact that could be confirmed with 28 of the 88 girls in which he came into contact. Despite his serious indictment, parents of the child victims fear that Hopkins could get away without prison time altogether.
Despite being charged with a whopping 36-count indictment for inappropriately touching 28 children, Hopkins only faces a maximum of five years in prison thanks to the authorities’ classification of the abuse. According to FOX 19, Warren County prosecutor David Fornshell admitted that the grand jury only approved indictments for 28 of the 88 girls, adding that it was likely due to the way each of the girls was touched. He explained that it was the jury’s duty to determine what was criminal contact and what was merely inappropriate contact.
For example, the jury may have decided that allowing a child to sit on his lap doesn’t qualify as criminal contact even though it is undeniably inappropriate. Because the jury could not see any other sexual contact from the footage, an indictment of such an incident would not stand. As such, for Hopkins to receive even a paltry five years in prison, he must plead not guilty and be found guilty on all 36 counts, which is not expected. He will most likely take a plea deal and agree to lesser charges.
Of Hopkins, Fornshell said, “Frankly, [the students] loved him as a teacher because of the amount of affection he was showing them. What these kids didn’t realize, this was completely inappropriate and criminal. With respect to some of the girls, his hands are going up their shirts, both the front side and back sides of their shirts, reaching up under the skirt, grabbing their buttocks,” Fornshell explained. “That’s really what we saw mostly with respect to these interactions.”
Hopkins nearly got away with his debauchery until one of the girls described the inappropriate contact to her parents. The parents then reported the contact with the school, which investigated the incident only to discover that the child’s accusation was true and that the gym teacher had many other victims.
Just days after the investigation, Hopkins submitted a letter of resignation, which was immediately approved by the Board of Education. He has officially been terminated from his education position at the school.
The prosecutor explained that Hopkins was able to convince the children that the behavior was completely normal and pleasant by offering them attention and affection. He even told one of the girls that they would get married someday.
Although horrific, the incident prompts parents to teach their children about inappropriate touching. Children should know that no one is permitted to touch their vulnerable parts and, most importantly, that secrets must never be kept from their parents.